Tag Archives: Alexa Day

Raising the Bar: Romance Has the Right to a Better Attorney

25 Apr

Is Dean Strang the new face of romance? Maybe. But let’s find a sensitive way to tell him that.

By Alexa Day

I have not been a huge fan of the lawyer as romance hero. Part of my resistance comes from reality, I imagine. As an attorney, I spent a great deal of time around other attorneys, and nothing cures an infatuation with lawyers faster than constant proximity to them. No offense meant, of course, to any members of the bar who might be hanging out here with me.

A larger part of the problem is that romance is generally fixated on the wealthiest fraction of the legal profession. I get that part of the allure of the super-rich hero is the comfort and security of money. But the world is filled with women who have their own comfort and security. And way too many of romance’s bumper crop of well-to-do heroes are … well … domineering jackasses.

They’re trying to impress people. They think the money makes them important. Money might not buy them love, but it’s always good for securing obedience and deference, and they’re willing to settle.

There’s a suggestion that the billionaire hero is on his way out, which is fine by me. I won’t miss them terribly, and they can take their alpha lawyer friends with them. But there’s an opportunity to reform the lawyer hero. If reality drove me away from lawyers in romance, then it makes sense in this great circle of life that reality would bring me back to the bar.

The last 18 months or so have been very good for the real life lawyer hero. Last winter’s film Loving featured two of them, bright-eyed ACLU crusaders who went to the wall to defend Richard and Mildred Loving’s right to be married. 13th and Time: The Kalief Browder Story introduce a few more, good people motivated primarily by the need to set things right. Off screen, the bold men and women of the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center are enjoying a moment in the sun, garnered under dark circumstances. The lawyers on the front lines here are not rolling in cash. One has to borrow an office. Another seems to be working in a windowless room just large enough for his desk and two chairs. Filmmakers make it a point to describe public defenders as hard-working, talented practitioners facing an impossible workload. Social media outlets emphasize that good lawyers are a bright light in a dark world.

They’re passionate. They’re tenacious. They know everything about the troubles that keep their clients awake at night, and they’re willing to shoulder as much of that weight as they can. They consider it their duty to ease fears, inspire confidence, and keep moving forward. They inspire that most blessed of feelings: Everything is going to be all right now.

And the legal industry is filled with attorneys just like this. Shouldn’t there be more of them in romance?

Of course, as an erotic romance author, I have to mention the delightful fiction potential presented by the rules preventing lawyers from sleeping with their clients. So no matter how attracted we might be to one another, nothing can happen without some fairly dire consequences. Except for impure thoughts. Impure thoughts about the forbidden can always happen. That’s great news for romance fiction, honestly — who doesn’t love a hearty struggle with impure thoughts? Even under extreme pressure, it’s hard to avoid an impure thought or three for the person who can create the feeling that everything will be all right now.

Two things, and then I’ll leave you to consider where the good lawyers of romance are (or to tell me where they are).

Why haven’t I mentioned the lawyer heroine?

My experience is that we already expect the lawyer heroine to take on this nurturing role. I don’t think we have nearly as many rich, hard-charging female attorneys as we have family lawyers, guardians ad litem, and the like. On the one hand, it’s good to see so many characters in these important lines of work, but on the other, it’s always reminded me of the days when heroines could only be schoolteachers and nurses. The iron ladies of the law deserve love, too.

Finally, I imagine some of you are wondering how I’ve gone on for this long without mentioning Dean Strang. I haven’t forgotten Dean. I just think he deserves his own space.

Dean Strang appeared on the worldwide stage in the Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer. He and his partner, Jerry Buting, take up the defense of Steven Avery in a murder case most charitably described as a giant clusterfuck. Dean is exactly the sort of lawyer the romance genre needs.

By the time he appears in the third episode, Dean is a reassuring presence. He’s not a physically imposing figure at all. He looks out at the world through big glasses, and his fashion choices made waves on social media for being ultranormal. (In fairness, he can successfully wear the color popularly known as buttercup. That deserves a nod from social media.)

As soon as Dean shows up, he understands what’s happening to his client and to the case immediately, and as a result, we feel safer, almost without knowing why. We learn that local law enforcement regards Dean with a respect that approaches apprehension. He is quick to call prosecutors out on missteps, and his attention to Avery’s alleged accomplice, a teenager who is not his client, is heartwarming.

The purity of Dean’s devotion to the justice system is untainted by any trace of naivete. He knows how things actually work and how they’re supposed to work. He believes in the highest possible standard but knows that he’s working in an imperfect world. To watch Dean work is to watch someone capable of deep love for a system that cannot love him back if it’s going to function the way he needs it to. He is intense and magnetic, and he has everyone leaning forward, just by doing his job.

He throws everything he has at the idea that the justice system should function effectively and that it’s his job to make sure that it does. His quiet fury, directed at those who are trying hard to subvert the system to protect themselves, makes the series work. Before long, viewers are showing up for Dean. The world seems a little hollow when he’s gone because we’re not so sure that everything will be all right.

Dean is surprised he has groupies. I’m not. I’m not surprised at all.

Romance doesn’t need more lawyer heroes. It needs better lawyer heroes.

It needs the man completely, but not blindly, devoted to justice. It needs the man who’s comfortable shouldering a client’s burden. It needs the man who has sacrificed wealth and comfort for limited funds and an imposing workload because his job saves lives.

It needs the sort of man who is surprised to find he has groupies.

Does this guy already practice in Romancelandia? Call him out in the comments and I’ll sit corrected.

In the meantime, follow Lady Smut.

Did you maybe bend the rule and touch your attorney? It’s okay. You can tell us.

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You Had Me At “Hi”: Scandal Goes Through the Looking Glass, People

18 Apr

But is it all a dream?

By Alexa Day

“For of all sad words of tongue and pen

The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

— John Greenleaf Whittier

Two immensely powerful words: what if.

They lead to a world that doesn’t exist, an imagined world where we have the chance to fix mistakes or indulge in every imprudent temptation we avoided in real life. “What if” creates a world full of adventures and devoid of regrets.

It can be a place to turn around, to get back on course.

Scandal needed to spend a little time in the World of What If.

By the time I stopped watching, Scandal had lost its way. It had drifted from tempestuous romance and outrageous plot twists into espionage and family dysfunction. Along the way, it shed lots of viewers. Not long ago, the series hit all-time low ratings.

But last week, for its 100th episode, Scandal spent an hour in the World of What If. Trapped between Fitz and Jake in a far less sexy way than I’d become used to, Olivia wonders how different her life would be if she hadn’t agreed to rig the presidential election for Fitz so long ago. It’s a tempting fantasy, even for one who’s had to decide between two men like Fitz and Jake, and she indulges in the daydream thoroughly.

At first it seems that things would be easier in a world where Defiance never happened. Without the presidency to support it, Fitz’s marriage to Mellie doesn’t survive. Without the presidency to impede it, Fitz is free to marry Olivia. Just a few minutes in, and the what if episode gives us estranged Scandal fans something we’ve wanted for a long time. We get a very stylish wedding, complete with a classic soul soundtrack. We’ve gone back in time to a place before B613, before the weekly Shonda-logue. We’ve returned to a Scandal with familiar faces gone too soon, long stares heavy with naked longing, and that greeting.

“Hi.”

This gratification is wonderful while it lasts.

Everything seems fine at first. It’s better than fine. It’s like all the things that chased me away from Scandal have simply been wished away. But while an alternate universe might change a person’s surroundings, it does little to change one’s character. Olivia still doesn’t know how to be happy in a relationship, and without the presidency, Fitz has enough time to worry about his place in her life. It’s not long before they’re fighting over something again, but this is not the familiar back and forth that drove me away from the series. This time, Fitz wants a divorce.

This still felt like good news to me, and not like before, in the prime universe, when I just wanted the two of them to stop talking to each other if they couldn’t be together. I was hopeful, at least partially because I didn’t want to let go of the daydream. Maybe, in this alternate world, they’d find their way back to each other, even if they only managed to stay put for the rest of the hour.

Alternate universe Easter eggs made the time pass quickly. Without black ops, Huck and Quinn are as close to normal people as their natures permit. Huck is more disheveled than his prime universe self, but he’s close enough to Olivia to walk her down the aisle. He’s a superfan of a Bachelor-esque dating show featuring his one-time prime universe sweetheart, Quinn. For her part, Quinn’s a believer in true love, happily ever after, and going down on Fitz behind closed doors. She’s in it for the attention, not unlike her counterpart.

Cyrus catches Mellie at a vulnerable moment, on the outside of the wedding, trying to peek in. Cyrus is still in the closet and trying to stay there, so when his pep talk with the heartbroken Mellie leads to a kiss, the opportunistic Cyrus makes sure that kiss leads to marriage … and later, to her very own presidential campaign. Cyrus has always wanted the Oval Office for himself. Running the country through Mellie would work just fine for him.

It’s crazy, soaptastic fun, loaded with twists and backed with a well-curated soundtrack. But no one stays in the alternate universe forever, and finally we travel back to Olivia and Fitz and their future, together or apart.

Fitz and Olivia actually manage a compromise, an agreement that has a chance of making them both happy. It probably shouldn’t be a huge surprise, right? There’s no sense in traveling to an alternate universe to make the same mistakes for the same reasons. But why are these two people coming together now? They still have the same hangups. I still don’t think either of them knows how to be in a relationship.

But Olivia and Fitz have a much easier time in the mirror world because no one is president. And as Olivia returns to reality, I think she realizes that her reality is about to merge with that daydream as Fitz’s term in the White House ends.

What does it all mean, now that the dream is over? Are we returning to the Scandal of old? Will I be on the edge of my seat, waiting for “hi”?

I don’t know. Right now, I only know that I watched an entire episode of Scandal, and I’m thinking about watching the next one. That hasn’t happened in way too long.

Are you watching Scandal? Big fan of the alternate universe plotline? I’ll meet you in the comments.

And follow Lady Smut. What if has never been so much fun!

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As Young As We Feel? Considering the Younger Man

11 Apr

Don’t laugh. One person’s pacifier is another person’s sex toy.

By Alexa Day

I’ve never been one to do things just because other people are doing them. I’m content to let everyone else jump off the bridge our mothers told us so much about.

But now Cindy Gallop has me thinking about dating younger men.

I often struggle to explain who Cindy Gallop is and why her opinion matters so much to me. My knee-jerk response is usually, “Cindy Gallop is life! Cindy Gallop is a hero!” You all are probably looking for more than that, though, so let’s get you some facts.

Cindy developed Make Love, Not Porn, a video-sharing platform through which participants can upload videos of themselves having real-world sex with their partners, and stream videos posted by others. Her search for investors demonstrated that people are generally uncomfortable with openly supporting sex-positive businesses. But years of success in a male-dominated field (advertising), along with an understanding of how women do business (we “share the shit out of” the things we like), have made her quite an influencer in the realms of sex, gender, and business. Cindy once said she was the first person to include the phrase “come on my face” during a TED talk. In fact, I wrote about her at the 2014 Romance Festival, where she rocked my world.

Cindy has dated younger men for years. It’s part of the reason she came up with MLNP. Her younger partners learned everything they knew about sex from porn, to everyone’s detriment. MLNP, which bills itself as “pro-sex, pro-porn, and pro-knowing the difference,” offered viewers a more realistic set of videos to learn from. Or just to enjoy. You know, the days are getting longer as the seasons change.

When I first heard the MLNP origin story, I remember shaking my head and thinking that’s what comes of dating younger dudes. Now I’m not so sure. Now I’m starting to think it might be a good idea.

And it’s not just because I’m getting a little older myself.

I tend to be more about the older guys. They’re more established. Their self-confidence comes from life experience. They know who they are and what they want.

But Cindy says much of this is also true of younger guys … and they’re really good in bed.

This January, in New York Magazine, Cindy wrote “Why Sleeping with Younger Men Is Best — No Matter How Old You Are.” In the article, she said her primary criterion for choosing a new man was a simple one. He had to be nice. Everything else followed from that. No need to worry about what he thinks of your body — he’s a good guy. Your emotions are safe with him. When you make sure you only date the nice ones, she says, you’re only spending time with the men you respect and admire. “You meet younger men who appreciate everything about older women,” she says.

That makes sense. As much as I want to tell myself that they only have to be nice if we’re going to talk afterwards, I can see how having a nice partner, how making that a priority, would reduce unnecessary stress and make for a more pleasant experience. Even if this isn’t going to lead to a relationship, having a good person as a partner just makes things easier and, according to Cindy, sexier.

About the sex. According to Cindy, the sex itself is the icing on the cake — stamina, confidence, and short recovery periods — but icing is important, even when the cake is pretty damn good. Now, the older guys are pretty spectacular in their own way. Far fewer of them, I would wager, are still looking to porn for technique. Years of experience have made them creative. They already know what they do well. Still. Maybe there’s something to be said for a little more physical prowess and dare I say, a touch of innocence?

While a lot of women might avoid revealing their bodies to a younger lover, for fear of what that hardbodied fellow might think, Cindy doesn’t have that problem. Of course, it helps that Cindy has boatloads of self-confidence. She’s not all that concerned about what any man might think of her body — she thinks she looks fantastic. Besides, she’s not going for those superficial souls who might have something to say, since her rule is “nice guys only.” She’s also not trying to get married. Wedlock and children have never been part of her master plan. Her chain of younger lovers, in short-term and long-term relationships, is the romantic solution that works for her. She doesn’t have to worry about any one man’s opinion for any longer than she wants.

Cindy says society tends to approve more of older men with younger women. I wonder, if that’s true, why the general public has so much to say about older women with younger partners. Is it the old discomfort with women being single at a certain age? Is it the sense that an older woman is more in control of her life, and by extension, her relationship? Is it our prudish society rebelling against a grown woman’s choice to have a younger sex partner, with all the superficial frills and thrills?

Damn, is it just jealousy?

One thing is for sure: the disapproval of prudes and nosy people isn’t going to stop Cindy Gallop. It never has.

Maybe that’s why I’m considering taking a page out of her book.

Follow Lady Smut … all the way to Atlanta! Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more. Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Of Love and Tigers on The Walking Dead

4 Apr

Like Sixteen Candles, but with MREs.

By Alexa Day

Warning: This post is wall-to-wall spoilers for the season 7 finale of The Walking Dead.

Season 7 of The Walking Dead has been leading up to the phenomenon known to readers as the All-Out War. But right now, on the eve of war, the conflict that finally put most of the zombie apocalypse’s factions in one place at one time has a clear winner.

Love is winning.

And tigers. Tigers are also winning.

Seriously, it’s all spoilers from here. Last warning.

I wasn’t sure I’d get through this season. After losing Glenn and Abraham in the season opener, I had to watch Rick disintegrate in front of a schoolyard bully whose only weapons were a bat and the inability to shut up. My attention began to wander. What happened to Rick, a man who tore out an enemy’s throat with his teeth? What was Time After Time like? When did American Crime come on?

Still, I stuck around all season long. I’d have felt awful if I’d abandoned my favorite television couple. And now I’m glad I stayed.

First, let’s salute the little things that make TWD great.

Carol has come out of the dark and reclaimed her status as BAMF. Earlier in the season, she had trouble reconciling her own vulnerability with her emerging identity as a true warrior. Her ability to open her heart to other people was, she felt, at odds with her ability to herd people into a room filled with gasoline before tossing in a lighter. On Sunday, I think she discovered that embracing her lethal self is the highest form of service to those she loves. Watching her in a suit of shining armor, among King Ezekiel’s knights and alongside His Majesty’s tiger, Shiva, was a joyful experience.

Jadis, as leader of the trash-dwelling Scavengers, is also a joy to watch. The Scavengers feel like a matriarchal society — most of Jadis’s lieutenants are women. And it’s notable that when Jadis decides she wants a handful of Rick, she goes right to Michonne for permission. Either she presumes Rick would be okay with a night of garbage-scented loving, or she’s decided his opinion just isn’t that important. (Michonne declined to loan Rick out. No doubt she was concerned that she’d have to run his junk through a car wash with extra foam — twice — afterwards.) Still, whatever else we might think of Jadis, it’s important that, in her peculiar, disjointed English, she did ask for permission before advancing on Rick. A lot of people wouldn’t bother with such pleasantries, but the “filthy garbage people” (says Negan) do respect some of society’s rules, after all.

All of this is secondary to the core of the episode, a story about just how deep love will go at the end of the world.

Love has sidled up on people this season, surprising them with its magnitude and persistence. And on Sunday night, amid the gunfire, love’s powerful current made its presence felt.

As soon as CBS announced that Sonequa Martin-Green would have the leading role in Star Trek: Discovery, people started to count the days until Sasha made her exit from TWD. Still, The Walking Dead is not television as usual. Anything can happen — or not happen — to anyone at any time. So while I was watching Sasha listen to her mp3 player in the dark, it took me a little while to accept that these were the final moments I’d have with this character.

Sasha’s last thoughts are of Abraham. We only really witnessed the surface of their relationship, the way strangers would observe a new couple on an early date. He was the Abraham we’d come to know, full of a casual, self-deprecating vulgarity. Courtship brought out a certain warmth in her, something we’d seen before with Bob and hoped to see again.

But in her memories, we get to see an Abraham we didn’t really know. Sure, he still says he hates the beach because it’s like getting his nut-sack sandblasted. He’s not totally different. But he’s a gentler, sweeter Abraham in Sasha’s memories, held so dear in her mind that she can recite every word he said to her during their last conversation. We see their relationship in a way neither would have shared with the group. They are tender and still hesitant with each other, but they’re starting to strengthen each other as well.

That lost possibility is the reason Abraham is in Sasha’s thoughts, instead of Bob or her own brother, Tyreese. We mourn the things that might have been differently. Grief for the things that have run their course, or for the people we’ve had a chance to say goodbye to, is not the same. Together, Sasha and Abraham might have complemented each other in a way that would rival Rick and Michonne. Sasha and Abraham had a lot to lose, and he was gone perhaps before they realized it.

A couple of weeks ago, Rick and Michonne enjoyed a honeymoon of sorts, complete with MREs, a drop through the rotted roof of a building (followed by giggles), and a deserted carnival where Rick tries to shoot a deer for his sweetheart. Romance is unpredictable in the new world, though, and Rick drops from his vantage point on a Ferris wheel into a crowd of zombies, who close in on him.

Michonne freezes. We know Rick isn’t dead — but she doesn’t. The certainty that she’s lost him seizes her, and she drops her ever-present katana. She’s speechless and defenseless, until he emerges from a nearby shelter, and the two go back to killing zombies and taking names.

Later, shaken by the close call, Michonne confesses that she can’t function if she loses him. Rick assures her that she can, and that she’ll have to face the possibility that she will have to survive him. This same conflict splintered Carol earlier this season. Neither woman could reconcile her need to hold on to loved ones with the vicious reality of life, but by the end of the season, both are trying to get to that place.

Rick might be sure that Michonne will survive in his absence, but before long, he’ll find himself in her shoes. After Jadis’s Scavengers turn against our heroes, Michonne finds herself in a fight for her life. Rick knows she’s locked in combat with an enemy, but he’s powerless to help her and too far away to see what’s happening. When he hears someone fall, screaming, from a distant rooftop, we know Michonne isn’t dead — but Rick doesn’t.

By the time he thinks he’s lost Michonne, the battle seems lost. Negan has Rick and Carl on their knees. He’s threatened to cut off Rick’s hand, an event graphic novel fans have been grimly anticipating for weeks. But when Rick hears the death shriek from Michonne’s direction, the last of his resolve deserts him. Something seems to fall away from him. Maybe it really is over.

Whether he’d been planning to surrender before or not, Rick seems more at peace with the decision and his fate at Negan’s hands once he believes Michonne is gone.

But then Shiva the tiger pounces on one of Negan’s Saviors, and all is eventually restored.

The experts are right. The tiger is not a pet.

Regrouping from yet another attack on Alexandria, and embracing all who came to the rescue, leads Rick to Maggie. He tells her that she’d done the right thing by joining the battle, just in time.

For Maggie, this is both simpler and much more complicated than a choice.

Maggie responds that the decision to rescue Alexandria didn’t belong to her. It originated with Glenn, who put himself in danger to help Rick, a stranger, all those episodes ago. That chain of events led one person to another, making strangers friends and binding friends into family.

Family always saves family. It’s not a choice. It’s just reality. To face the possibility of loss and fight for the future anyway — that’s what love is. It’s what love does.

That’s a lot to think about until October.

Well, that and watching Shiva leap into action. I know I’ll be replaying that moment all summer long.

This summer, you can do more than just follow Lady Smut! Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more. Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Sexy Sunday Snippet: 1-800 by Alexa Day

26 Mar

Sure, Valentine’s Day may have given way to March Madness, and April showers aren’t far away. But is there ever a wrong time for holiday shopping? Of course not. Take a peek at “1-800,” in which our hero Jason Lowell starts out looking for one thing and ends up finding something far more exciting. 

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Jason has to find the perfect gift for his perfect fiancée, the beautiful, sexy Kate. But where will he find a present worthy of the love of his life? A bit of afternoon channel surfing, meant to stimulate his thoughts, leads to a home shopping network right out of his wildest fantasies. Before long, he’s stimulated in all the right ways! But will he find the gift Kate’s wanted all her life? Or will he be too distracted by the live product demonstrations?

*****

To the untrained eye it would appear that Jason was watching a basketball game in his basement man cave. But he knew he was looking for a Valentine’s Day present.

Sure, most other guys would actually look for a present in a more obvious place. The internet came immediately to mind, jam-packed with so many “Best Presents to Get Your Woman” lists that the websites had to find some way to make them all unique. One list was written by women. Another was written by a call girl. He had a feeling neither of those was entirely accurate, at least not for his purposes.

He could always just ask what she wanted. Kate wasn’t the sort to presume he was reading her mind, primarily because he had failed to do it so many times during the early months of their relationship. What she wanted most, she said, was reliability, even if that meant just asking her for advice. Still, something in him, some ancient provider gene that had survived eons of evolution, wanted to come through for her without any help.

Of course, there were the old standbys: chocolate, flowers, jewelry, what have you. He’d never met the woman who disliked flowers, and he brought them home every so often just to make her smile. He knew she liked chocolates, the darker the better, but if they were in the house his waistline would suffer for it. As for jewelry, well, the only jewel she wore regularly was the diamond he’d put on her finger this past Christmas.

So none of the standbys would prove interesting. He liked being interesting, but it put a lot of pressure on a guy.

In their time together he had usually been successful in getting her just the right thing. His secret was a simple one. He knew immediately that she was not an ordinary woman, so he didn’t bother with ordinary gifts. His friends had all mocked him for the unorthodox ideas. The ornate hardbound edition of Jane Eyre with a hand-painted bookmark at each chapter. The cute little tasseled earplugs for the years with her obnoxious roommate. A heart-shaped infuser for her tea. His friends had gone on and on about his “weird ideas.” But in the end, those guys hadn’t been interesting, and he still was. So there.

He grinned.

So far the commercials had been for beer (not really a present), another kind of beer (see above), a pizza with two kinds of bacon and six kinds of cheese (almost lunch time), diamonds (already got one), and a $45,000 luxury car. He’d watched this ad with her before. She’d taken one look at the car racing down a dark street and scoffed. “Oh, look at us!” she said scornfully. “We have money!” Then she’d flipped off the elegant woman in the passenger seat with one hand, and her smug-looking husband with the other.

No luxury car. Not that he could afford one.

The game started again with a slow-motion replay of North Carolina’s tiny little point guard driving right through Virginia’s entire defense for a layup. He groaned and reached for the remote. If he was going to shop for gift ideas, he could at least find a better game.

His thumb flicked the channel up button with practiced ease, and programs flashed by in a blur. First up was an even worse ball game. Law & Order. Chick flick. Predator movie. Two women in their underwear, giggling into the camera. Hogan’s Heroes.

Whoa whoa whoa.

He flicked back to the ladies in lingerie.

A blonde dressed in a red bra and panties stood next to an olive-skinned beauty wearing a merry widow. He loved the phrase merry widow. Ever since he’d first seen it, in the bathroom with a Victoria’s Secret catalog about a million years ago, he’d committed it and the luscious form it was wrapped around, to his memory.

The girl in red waved at the camera. “Hi!” she said. “I’m Cassidy.”

Merry widow waved. “And I’m Marissa.”

Then, in unison, they announced, “And this is…The Toy Box!”

The two of them put their arms around each other’s shoulders and tittered like this was going to be the most exciting television show in the world. He put the remote on the table.

“We’d like to welcome you to the Valentine’s edition of the most popular show on the Shop From Home Channel,” said Cassidy.

“But these toys are for grown-up boys and girls,” said Marissa. “So if you’re under eighteen, you need to change the channel.”

They stood there and giggled some more.

Come on, kiddies. Change the damn channel.

“All right, then,” said Marissa. “Now we’re ready to show you some awesome gifts that are sure to spice up your special day.”

This was probably going to be something lame, like crotchless panties or a cake pan shaped like a dick. But he kept watching. Just to be sure. Until one of those games turned around.

“Why don’t we get this party started with one of our most popular goodies?” asked Marissa. “Cassidy?”

“This is our Little Giant,” Cassidy said. She held up her hand, one finger extended as if she were pointing at the ceiling. She had a little gizmo on her fingertip that looked for all the world like one of those little vibrators. “It’s a great present for a special someone you might like to know a little better.”

“I’ll take some calls while you give us a demo, Cassidy,” said Marissa.

A demo. Like the people in TV Land needed her to show them where the on switch was. Actually, he and Kate had gotten a toy once where the button was hidden in the—

Cassidy had walked to the back of the set, where she tucked her thumbs into the waistband of those festive red panties and pulled them down, bending at her waist and supplying just the right amount of jiggle. Then she hopped up onto a chaise longue and spread her legs, bending them at the knee. Jason felt his mouth drop open.

What the hell channel is this?

*****

“1-800” is free and yours for the taking at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. Enjoy!

Alternative Endings to the Bachelor

16 Mar

Huzzah! Rachel Lindsay–The first POC bachelorette.

by Madeline Iva

I saw the very first season of the Bachlorette while packing for a Big Move to the South.  I made it through a few seasons after that because I was fascinated by watching grown women aggressively fight for the attention of one man–while pretending not to. So deliciously perverse! Alexa Day posted about the announcement of the latest bachelorette on Tuesday, and the rest below is just one long riff about The Bachelor and other thoughts her post inspired.

I loved how the most interesting women (to me) on The Bachelor in the end ultimately had to be–I mean HAD TO BE–there for the money. (Student loans, I’m guessing.) Top ways to tell:

  1. They were very popular with the other women in the house. This, I think, is a key sign. But at the same time, they didn’t seem to have a secret boyfriend at home, or were there for some kind of acting career –and thus could dodge the “you’re not here for the right reasons” attack.   (BTW has anyone ever gone up and attacked a contestant saying “You’re just here to pay off your student loans—aren’t you, bitch?”)
  2. Often they would acknowledge being on the fence about their feelings for the guy. Why? Because they weren’t that into Mr. Available.  This only helps them not seem like a threat to the other women, of course.
  3. The fact that they weren’t so into the bachelor often seemed to make the bachelor far more into them.  Like he wanted to chase them hard.  After all, for most men, chasing is their comfort zone.  (Some of us are challenged when it comes to being adored.) Logically, enlightened men *know* it’s okay for a girl to chase a guy.  But they’re not actually comfortable with it.  It’s not their usual pattern–and sometimes breaking patterns feels odd.
  4. Because these women were just “passing time” to earn their paycheck, they could neatly avoid conflict in the house with the rest of the women–and work on soothing things out.  This is where their attention was.  It’s like they reguard the other women in the house as their fellow co-workers and wanted to be team players more than they were actually vying for the heart of one man.
  5. There’s almost an instant, quick and quiet break up following the conclusion of the show when one of these women was chosen.  The fact that a break up would immediately follow seemed like wonderful karma to me.  That’s what you get, you bachelor guy, for going for the girl that’s “not that into you” and ignoring the ones who were good people and desperate for your man-love.

At any rate — I’m glad that the show chose a POC bachelorette.

But I gotta wonder: how is this show going to continue to appeal to any but the most conservative audience? Because with polyamory becoming an accepted thing amongst all the hipsters and millenials, doesn’t the idea of picking ‘the one’ seem just a wee bit old fashioned?

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being a monogamous type of person (I’m one myself). I’m just saying that when the Batchelor says “OMG, I’m in love with BOTH of these women” is this still the shockingly upsetting drama that it used to be?  Aren’t twenty and thirty somethings across the land saying “And? This is a problem why?”

Or–a more radical theory still–was the repetition of season after season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette actually paving the way for widespread polyamory across our heartland over these last ***seventeen*** years by making TV America overly familiar with the idea that one person can easily fall in love with two (or more) people at the same time?  I mean, think back to when polyamory started becoming a thing–right? Amiright?

I’m just waiting for the season when the Bachelor/Bachelorette decides to propose to *both* women or accept a proposal from *both* guys.  Now that would be a ratings booster.

Maybe if this this new bachelorette says yes to a black man AND a white man we can all have our cake and eat it too.

MEANWHILE — Idris Elba for Bond.  Seriously.  Accept no other substitutes.  Unless it’s Tom Hiddleston.  Then we’ll have to talk.

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

Half Past Time: Rachel Lindsay as the Next Bachelorette

14 Mar

Not sure what lies ahead for Rachel, but she seems to have done pretty well so far, no?

By Alexa Day

Her name is Rachel Lindsay, she’s 31 years old, and she’s an attorney working for a very supportive law firm.

She’s the next Bachelorette. And she’s black.

Some of you can’t be bothered to care, and that’s fine. I will defend to the death your right to apathy. Just understand that this is a really big deal for a great many people.

I’ve never really watched the Bachelor; I could only watch so many grown women burst into real tears on camera over some dude they just met. By the time, I stopped paying attention years ago, the show’s few black cast members were usually on the show long enough to make the network look good. Then they were gone before anyone started to think that the Bachelor, usually a white man, would actually choose a black woman as a romantic partner and potential spouse.

Gradually, black women garnered longer stays on the Bachelor. But before Nick Viall, whose run as the Bachelor will end tonight, none had cracked the final three. Indeed, Nick had a more diverse selection of women than many Bachelors. In the history of the franchise, going back 21 years, the Bachelor and Bachelorette have had only 43 black cast members, and eight of them were with Nick this season.

Rachel left the Bachelor last week, leaving Vanessa and Raven to vie for the final rose. This is about the time I found out that Rachel would be the next Bachelorette, and after I shook my head in wonder that it only took ABC thirteen years to make a black woman the show’s lead, I started to pick through the press coverage.

I liked Rachel immediately. She said her law firm is holding her job open while she films the show, something she knows to be an anomaly in the legal industry. She said she had no desire to know what her dad and Nick talked about, when the two of them apparently had their suitor-parent conference. And then, in The New York Times, she said, “Even though I’m an African-American woman, it’s not different from any other bachelorette.”

You might be asking, at this point, what the big deal is. She says she’s going to be just like any other bachelorette.

That’s the big deal. That’s a huge deal.

I’ve got a few years on Rachel, and so my experience with popular culture’s expectations of black women is probably a little different. Today, we have Rick and Michonne on The Walking Dead, who have moved beyond being the zombie apocalypse’s most dangerous couple and become its most adorable couple as well. On Scandal, Fitz’s adulterous relationship with Olivia might be a thing of the past, but he’s involved in another, similarly complicated interracial relationship with Angela, the director of the FBI … and his ex-wife, Mellie, is flirting across racial lines with her aide, Marcus. Not that long ago, I was delighted to spread the news about the immense but understated magnetism of Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in Loving.

My point here is that we’re seeing black women with white men in the popular culture. We’re seeing it frequently. What’s so different about this?

The headline that sent me down this Bachelorette rabbit hole was this one, from The Hollywood Reporter: “History-Making ‘Bachelorette’ Opens Up About Pressure to Pick a Black Man.”

Rachel hasn’t even started production yet. And she knows there’s going to be some pressure for her to pick a black man, because to some person or persons out there, it’s okay for her romantic options to be limited by her skin color.
In short, she knows that a lot of people think that black people should be with other black people, to the exclusion of all other people. Whether this view is espoused by enough people to affect her pool of suitors remains to be seen. But she knows the truth about people’s perceptions, and she is willing to tell The Hollywood Reporter about it. In spite of this, she’s determined to pursue her reality-TV romance just like any other woman, of any other race.

“It’s my journey in finding love,” she said. “And whether that person is black, white, red, whatever — it’s my journey. I’m not choosing a man for America, I’m choosing a man for me.”

I hope the network is prepared to support her in this mission.

If Zack and Lisa mattered to you back in the day, then Rachel probably ought to matter to you now.

Because I’m older than Rachel, I remember how many a television show would bring on a completely random black character for the sole purpose of being an appropriate, but temporary, love interest for a more permanent black character. I’m also aware of the longstanding TV trope of pairing the black character with the least romantically desirable character on the show. We’ve made progress, sure. But let’s be honest. Popular culture is still very comfortable with black romance (interracial and otherwise) on the sidelines, leaving black characters with societally appropriate partners who have no chemistry with them, with some grand mission to assist other characters at the expense of their own love lives, or with no partners at all. Honestly, I’m still a bit annoyed with Magic Mike XXL for pushing Rome into the corner. I’m enjoying the rise of Richonne because part of me is afraid it’s going to be taken away soon. Please don’t start me talking about Sleepy Hollow again.

I’m not going to sit here with you and suggest that the Bachelorette is the flagship of romance. I did just say I couldn’t bear to watch grown women devastated to discover that they wouldn’t be marrying some dude they just met a little while ago. But Ali Barthwell from Vulture says it best in “Why a Black Bachelorette is a Big Deal.”

“Celebrating black womanhood in the context of marriage and motherhood might seem reductive to some, but because they’ve so often been denied those roles in pop culture, it’s in fact, revolutionary,” she writes. “Seeing a black woman as the woman pursued, riding off into the sunset, would do so much to diversify the narratives of black romance.”

Will I tune in for Rachel? Well, just last night, one of her future suitors apparently greeted her, on international television, with the promise that he was “ready to go black and never go back.” I have to support a woman who could hear a man say that and not punch him in the face, cameras be damned.

In the meantime, let me present two tales of reality TV romance where black women take center stage.

In The One, by Danielle Allen, heroine Zoe is a reality-TV skeptic who suddenly finds herself on a Bachelor-style show. And Bridget Midway’s Love series, starting with Love My Way, features a reality TV show that pairs Doms with their submissives.

Still looking for excitement? Try this on for size.

Let the Confessional Games Begin!

Have you ever had mad monkey love on a motorcycle? A three-way in an alley? Been roped, tied and pleasured? Have you never, ever, never done any of this? Be rewarded for your naughty or sweet past and win crowns, toys, books and more at the Lady Smut special reader event, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the RT Booklovers Convention.

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“Naked is normal”: Playboy restores the nude pictorial

7 Mar
Nudity might be normal, but what about shame?

Nudity might be normal, but what about shame?

By Alexa Day

I remember writing about Playboy’s decision to remove the nude pictorial from their print issues. At that time, the pictorials had already been removed from the online issues. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at the time, in large part because I read Playboy for the articles. I’m just not that interested in the nude female form. If I want to see female nudity, I’ll take my own shirt off.

I thought I’d heard that nudity had returned to Playboy, and on Saturday, my colleague Elizabeth Shore confirmed my suspicions. This was just a couple of weeks after I named Playboy one of the three things that was getting me through a bit of a creative slump. So now I’m presented with another opportunity to examine my feelings about the presence of the nude pictorial in Playboy, and I think I’m finally able to pick a lane.

I don’t care. I don’t care whether the nudity is present or not.

On the one hand, the restoration of nudity isn’t affecting the reasons I show up to the metaphorical Playboy party. (I mention the metaphor to emphasize that I am absolutely available for a real Playboy party.) I took a quick look at the website before I began to write this post and found an article about a hormone that improves sex (and isn’t testosterone or oxytocin), an advice column explaining what exactly a fuckboy is, and a short story about a young woman taking charge of her sexual awakening. The last time I visited, when I found a story in praise of sex with unattractive partners, I noticed how many women are contributors to Playboy. In fact, all the stories I just mentioned were written by women.

Here’s where it gets complicated for me.

If, indeed, the reason for bringing nudity back to Playboy is to increase readership, are we to believe that nudity is the only reason people will pick it up? That’s a little depressing. Playboy is bringing it right now. It should have a solid, dedicated audience of sex-positive people looking for the sort of content it supplies in abundance. I wonder if it might not benefit from more time to draw that audience. My suspicion is that a lot of potential readers are being scared away by their perception of Playboy’s reputation. Those folks are going to stay away now because they’re going to see this decision as a commitment to boobs before content.

Having said that, if the editorial staff stands to benefit from this decision, I will find a way to support it. After all, if nudity gets more eyes on the pages, at least some of those readers will stay for the stories. Nudity might sell that magazine, but strong content sells subscriptions. We’ve all seen what strong content is doing for Teen Vogue right now. I imagine Teen Vogue has picked up a lot of readers who don’t mind flipping past the story on six quick dorm-room breakfasts to get to the political coverage.

Don’t flip past that breakfast article, by the way. It’s sound advice. I actually eat two of the six featured breakfasts regularly, and I haven’t lived in a dorm in almost 30 years.

But what about the nudity itself?

I’ve always thought that a woman’s decision to pose nude for a magazine is just that — her decision. I can’t police that for her. I wouldn’t police it for her if I could. I’m never going to do it because nudity is a hard limit for me, but if it gives another woman pleasure to be photographed in the buff, I say go for it. Sure, people might point and leer, but I myself want to preserve the freedom to point and leer at unclothed men. Besides, I’m not sure we should let our presumptions about What Other People Think govern other women’s decisions. That position isn’t moving any of us forward.

The return of the nude pictorial is announced in the March/April issue with a cover announcing that “Naked is normal.” But if that raises the spectre of that one creep everyone seems to know, the one whining that “naked is normal” when he’s trying to convince you to cross a boundary, take heart in this month’s short story. In “Supercops,” an 18-year-old girl makes the decision to lose her virginity to an older man, so that she’ll know what sex is like before heading to college. The encounter is not described in any detail — indeed, the protagonist reflects on it with some regret — but her thoughts on the matter are significant.

“[A]fter graduation,” Meredith muses, “a woman not only had the right, she had the responsibility to use her body the way she saw fit—or what was feminism for?”

If feminism isn’t a woman’s decision to do what she damn well pleases, whether that’s choosing the princess life, attacking the glass ceiling, or posing nude for Playboy, then what is feminism’s purpose, in the final analysis?

Playboy’s official position is similar (careful, that link comes with music). In a world trying to decide “what freedom is, and what it looks like, for all of us,” the magazine wants to examine “how freedom, feminism and nudity intersect.” The new issue includes an essay on the topic from Scarlett Byrne, whose nude pictorial is also featured this month. Scarlett Byrne’s fiance is the magazine’s chief creative officer, but if you think she got here on her cup size, you might be part of the problem, she says.

“[W]hen women associate themselves with anything involving ownership of their sexuality, they’re often perceived as having abandoned their intellect,” Byrne writes. There’s a great deal of truth to that. It’s an accusation leveled against many a romance writer, especially those of us writing erotic romance, and we are in turn quick to point prudish fingers at others. Byrne goes on to say that she was hesitant to appear topless on this month’s Playboy, heralding the magazine’s return to nudity, but that she changed her mind when she considered a longstanding double standard.

“Was it just me who thought it was absurd that if Playboy published a topless woman on the cover and Men’s Health put a man on the cover in a similar pose, Playboy would be the one to be put behind blinders?” Byrne asks. “When I considered that fact, it became clear in that moment that it didn’t have anything to do with Playboy. It was about the double standards still being applied to gender roles.”

I wish Playboy a long and happy future. And if nudity is what it takes to secure that, then I guess I support the nude pictorial as well.

Still, I’m curious to see what lies ahead.

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In Kinky Color: The Crossroads Between Blackness and BDSM

28 Feb
Trust me. You want one. Click to buy.

Trust me. You want one. Click to buy.

By Alexa Day

Were you here for Bridget Midway’s visit the other week? She wrote two of the very first BDSM romances I ever read, Fascination Street and Woman in Chains. Fascination Street, which I recommend to people looking for an unconventional housewarming gift, is the story of a couple discovering that the suburbs are full of kinky surprises. Woman in Chains follows a heroine out of the darkness of an abusive BDSM relationship and into a loving, fulfilling one. Both feature black heroines.

I asked Midway what she would say to black kinksters and the kink-curious who were conflicted about the outer trappings of BDSM. Chains, restraints, whips, and the power exchange are pretty loaded for a great many black people in this country, and the emotional impact borne by those accoutrements is sufficient to make some folks keep their distance.

She had this to say:

“No matter the kink, people who are involved in the Lifestyle are doing it for themselves and no one else, unless your thing is being an exhibitionist. If it is, you still wouldn’t care what anyone thinks. A person of color who enjoys being tied down or whipped should want it because it’s what they desire and it’s consensual. That’s the most important thing.”

And she’s right. I agree with her 100 percent.

But everyone brings something different to bed. And for every woman who lives her desires with complete comfort, there’s at least one more who finds the journey to “Yes, Sir” a little more challenging.

Maybe she doesn’t know what her thing is.

Maybe she knows this is her thing but she doesn’t know if she wants to pursue it.

Maybe she knows she wants to pursue it but doesn’t know where to start.

And maybe … maybe the notion of being on her knees or bound hand and foot or using the word “Master,” even in theory, makes her that uncomfortable. Pleasantly uncomfortable and also unpleasantly uncomfortable.

Black womanhood is not a monolith, to be sure, and we are often met with any number of baseless stereotypes and generalizations about everything from religion to body image to sexuality. We are not any one thing. And yet the bloody path out of slavery, marked by a long tradition of whips, chains, and total disregard for sexual consent, is a powerful part of the black collective consciousness in America. Black women might not all have the same response to it, but I would venture to guess that we all have a response of some kind.

Between the woman who knows she’s into BDSM, and the one who is just as sure that she isn’t, stands the kink-curious black woman, examining whether she wants to take her exploration of BDSM out of her imagination and into reality. That process comes with its own hazards.

Sajae Edwards writes for Vice about her first forays into BDSM, describing a journey fraught with triggers and presumption, with many obstacles to and diversions from the pleasure she sought. “I learned there’s a considerable amount of room for black dommes and other such figures,” she writes, “but it can get fuzzy for those of us who fall under submissive categories and as a black woman, there’s something that rubbed me the wrong way about having a white male dominant. … There were too many implications of power at play for me to ignore or not be troubled by.” Between men who ignored her self-identification as submissive and insisted on making her a “dominant Ebony goddess,” and one man who took playful name-calling too far with a racial epithet, Edwards never finds real success with her exploration. “There already exists plenty of tropes about black women’s inherent hypersexuality,” she writes, “and it’s something that made me shy away from my curiosities in the past.” Finally, she decides that “my experiences in kink have somewhat scared me off from experimenting with it again—for now, at least.”

In a pair of 2012 articles for Bitch media, Catherine Scott looks at the intersection of race and kink. Scott speaks specifically to race play, BDSM sex play that focuses on race, including antebellum-style slave auctions the use of racial slurs. On the one hand, Scott interviews a black submissive who draws the line at race play, saying that “I have people in my family who had to submit to that, where they had no choices. It’s too close to home for American black people.” She also interviews a submissive who observes that her black ancestors fought and died for her right to pursue her pleasure wherever and however she wished. For still another commenter, the deciding factor is whether or not the play is public. No one else gets to dictate what happens in a private bedroom, but once race play is out in the world, resistance to it is predictable.

But there are more accounts of black women finding their place within BDSM. In submission, Michelle Ofiwe finds freedom from the burden of strength and the constraints of her tough outer image. Her carefully cultivated facade shattered the first time she had her hair pulled. The shock and pleasure of that gesture opened her to the possibility of more, and after that, she found that pain gave rise to honesty and a vulnerability she rarely experienced. In bed, she controls the type and duration of pain she will endure, and she finds pleasure in that power and in that release.

Writer Glamazon Tyomi had never seen a dominatrix, let alone a black one, before meeting Mistress C at a demonstration. Mistress C explains to Tyomi that black Americans have always been involved in BDSM — they just spent many years playing outside the public eye. When images of black BDSM become exploitative and fetishistic, Mistress C explained, organizations specifically for black kinksters emerged to welcome the curious. When Janet Jackson and Rihanna brought provocative images of kink to the public eye, black interest in BDSM increased. Mistress C told Tyomi that the decision to check out BDSM belonged to each woman individually, but that the public perception that black women don’t engage in BDSM shouldn’t restrict potential players. “When we grow up as adults and we look at our lives, it’s a matter of choice,” Mistress C said. “Do you choose to experiment and to exercise your mind to see what’s on the other side of the veil?”

Erotic coach Phyllis-Serene Rawley agrees. After discovering BDSM in her twenties and winning the Southern California Leather Woman pageant at fifty, she says she’s enjoyed working with Black women because there’s an assumption we’re not into BDSM. Rawley’s truth is very close to Midway’s. “Whatever your pleasure fantasy is, fulfill it,” Rawley says. “It’s your life. It’s your body. Do what turns you on. For me, that’s red leather and a leash.”

So where is a kink-curious girl to turn? As Midway said in the interview, BDSM is a real lifestyle with participants doing it all over the world. After finding a local BDSM group — nearer to home than she imagined — she met members, attended meetings, and learned about BDSM from those who knew it best. Today, her 2017 Royal Pains event brings together writers of BDSM romance with members of the community. I myself found a local BDSM group through an easy online search, and before long, I was at a munch (a casual informational meeting) with a roomful of wonderful, welcoming folks ready to answer any questions I might have about the lifestyle.

It takes courage to follow secret, sexual curiosity into the real world. That much is undeniable. But if exploration and experimentation can lead to larger truths about individual identity, can any of us afford to stay hidden? Can any of us risk being defined by stereotypes when a little courage might change everything?

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Keeping It Real: An Interview with Bridget Midway

14 Feb
Best. Housewarming. Gift. Ever. Click to buy.

Best. Housewarming. Gift. Ever. Click to buy.

By Alexa Day

We’ve spent a great deal of the last few days celebrating Fifty Shades. I cannot in good conscience join that celebration. My consistently negative feelings about Fifty Shades — both the portion of the book that I struggled to read and the movies I have no intention of seeing — are well documented here on the blog. But today, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have chosen to offer you a more gentle, generous message.

You can do better. You can do much better.

Take Bridget Midway. Her Fascination Street was one of the very first kinky romances I ever read. It’s more of a swinging romance than a BDSM story, although it’s Bridget’s first book featuring characters who are into BDSM. Still, it doesn’t look like many of today’s BDSM romances. There are no billionaires. There are no ingenues. There are no sex clubs (but there is absolutely an orgy). Fascination Street is the story of a couple discovering that their new home in the suburbs comes with some very kinky neighbors. It’s also an interracial romance, the first BDSM romance I’d ever read with a black heroine.

Woman In Chains features a Dominant hero who rescues a submissive from an abusive Dom. When the story opens, the heroine, Brea, has been so badly abused that she won’t even use her own name. Watching her find her way out of the darkness with her rescuer, Dakota, is pretty powerful stuff.

I got to interview Bridget about her sexy stories, where BDSM romance is headed, and whether BDSM’s chains and power exchange are especially loaded for black kinksters. I definitely learned a thing or two from our conversation.

AD: With Fascination Street, you showed us that kinky people could literally be the couple next door, and with Woman in Chains, I absolutely love the way you portrayed hero Doms and villainous ones, to show readers what these relationships should and should not look like. (I consider both of them seminal works, by the way.) Is BDSM romance doing enough to draw the line between good relationships and bad ones? Does BDSM romance have any responsibility to do that?

BM: All romance fiction should highlight what a great relationship is for that couple. (Emphasis Alexa’s.) What works for one person may not work for another. Belle in Beauty and the Beast desired the Beast more than Gaston, but I’m sure some woman out there wanted Gaston. The goal of BDSM romance fiction should be to represent the Lifestyle honestly.

A: Do you think that we, as erotic romance authors, are sacrificing the tenets of safe, sane, consensual to achieve more popularity? I think erotic romance has always been a little larger than life, but do you think that we’re going beyond the unrealistic into the dangerous? Do we have a mandate to educate, or at least to be responsible, in our portrayal of BDSM?

B: In all fiction, authors push the boundaries of reality to create a fantasy that will make readers fall in love with love and with the characters. I can only speak about my writing style and my goals. I stay in the boundaries of portraying safe, sane, and consensual BDSM relationships. However, there’s more to a BDSM relationship than safe, sane, and consensual. Trust is paramount. It’s the bedrock of any good BDSM relationship. I’ll shake the characters up by making them question the trust they have between each other.

A: What would you say to black kinksters and the kink-curious who may be torn between curiosity and the powerful cultural implications of the power exchange, the whip/chain/restraint trappings of BDSM? Is BDSM different for black practitioners?

B: Although I write BDSM, I’m not personally in the Lifestyle. However, I have learned about the Lifestyle from people in the Lifestyle for more than twelve years. The very first time I went to a munch, which is a lunch that includes a demonstration, the Domme who taught me about the Lifestyle taught me one very important thing. BDSM is about sensations. Some people like a harder sensation than others. Some may want to be spanked, caned or flogged. Some may want dirty talk or tickling or mummification. No matter the kink, people who are involved in the Lifestyle are doing it for themselves and no one else, unless your thing is being an exhibitionist. If it is, you still wouldn’t care what anyone thinks. A person of color who enjoys being tied down or whipped should want it because it’s what they desire and it’s consensual. That’s the most important thing.

It'll change the way you think. Click to buy.

It’ll change the way you think. Click to buy.

A: Do you feel any kind of a way about Fifty Shades?

B: When the books first came out and there was a definite buzz about them, readers contacted me and asked me what I thought about them. At the time, I hadn’t heard of the series or the author. So I went on the author’s website to check out what she was all about. In her Frequently Asked Questions page, she admitted that she did all of her BDSM research online. After that, I discounted everything in the series and the movies.

BDSM is a real lifestyle with participants doing it all over the world. At the time I learned, I lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I didn’t even think where I lived that there was even a local BDSM group. I thought the closest I could get would be D.C. or Maryland. I did a search online and found a group that welcomed me to their meetings and have been so supportive about everything I have done, from book releases to in-person events. So for that reason, the Fifty Shades of Grey author had absolutely no excuse for not going out and meeting people from the Lifestyle to get a real, honest perspective. People can and do lie online all the time. When you get in a room with someone who is getting flogged or see a rigger hoist someone in the air with ropes or watch needles piercing someone’s skin and hearing their reaction, you collect sensational memories that you can translate into compelling fiction. I heard what it sounded like for a paddle to strike flesh. I smelled the wax during wax play. I’ve felt different types of canes and floggers. I have swung a paddle and flogger, and struck someone before. For that reason, I hope readers find me credible when they read my work.

A: I want to hear all about Royal Pains! How long have you been putting on an annual event? Why did you start? What do you hope to accomplish each year?

B: Ah, “2017 Royal Pains with Bridget Midway and Friends”. To be honest, and you may find this hard to believe, I’m painfully shy. I don’t mind absorbing into a background and being an observer. On the flip side of that, I do enjoy talking to readers and talking about books. About five years ago, author Yvette Hines put on an in-person event in Virginia Beach. She invited other local authors, including me, to participate. I saw how much fun it was, and asked her if she wanted to partner to do a joint event that focused on BDSM. I had never heard of a BDSM author event at that time, and I had been to plenty of BDSM conventions like Leather Flea Market Fair, Leather Fet and Fetish Fair Flea Market. I wanted to marry the two concepts.

In 2013, Yvette and I put on an event called “Wrapped Up” and wrote complementing books in a series about brothers who were both Dominants and owned a candy shop. My book was called Licorice Whips. I invited a couple of people in the Lifestyle to talk about what it is that they do, and they did an actual scene for the attendees.

To put on an event is a lot of work. So I waited a couple of years, and then in 2015, author Adrienne Kama and I put on another BDSM event called “Kickin’ It”. In that one, I had even more folks in the Lifestyle there and they answered questions and did some interactive activities with them.

I was exhausted after that event and hadn’t planned on putting on another one. When the people in the Lifestyle came up to me at the end of the “Kickin’ It” event and said, “You are going to do this again, and we will be here for you”, I knew I had to put on another event. It was fun and so informative.

My goal is to educate and entertain. I want people to take the fantasy of what they think BDSM is out of their heads and look at something real. And I want them to see and hear from people that I lean on for my BDSM teachings. And if I sell a book or two, that’s icing on the cake.

A: What are you working on right now?

B: Right now I’m working on the fourth book in the Love series, which is called Addicted to Love. That series has been about BDSM in reality TV settings. The first book, Love My Way, was about a Dominant trying to find a submissive through a reality TV show. The second book, Slave To Love, is about a submissive trying to find her Dominant through a reality TV show. In that book, there were two characters in there that “spoke” to me. I wanted to explore their stories. The hero was a contestant on the show who doesn’t talk. And the heroine is a bubbly submissive. Truth be told, this is the most difficult book I have ever written. But I can’t back away from a challenge. I want to get his story told.

A: I want that story told, too!

I am so, so grateful to Bridget for spending some time with me and Lady Smut! If you’re down with what Bridget is saying (and I definitely am), check her out on Facebook. Every morning, she posts up some smoking hot imagery in the run-up to Royal Pains. I especially enjoy the femdom photos. Yes, ma’am! If you want to join the party at Royal Pains — and I agree with Bridget that watching a scene from inside the room far surpasses anything you’re going to see on the Internet — head over to Bridget’s site. When she and I spoke, there were only 14 spots left, and they are going very quickly.

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

And this is an excellent time to follow Lady Smut. You’re just in time for the Kama Sutra giveaway! Just subscribe to our newsletter for a chance to win.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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